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Soul-destroying loan charge letters revealed same week as government suicide prevention campaign

Loan charge letters revealed/ Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels
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“The Impact Statement used to persuade the House of Commons to vote [the loan charge] legislation through is an appalling indictment of #HMRC as it was deliberately designed to mislead MPs (think there were only 15 in the House when it was voted through),” says a post on the Loan Charge & Taxpayer Fairness APPG Twitter feed.

The feed has been slowly filling up with personal accounts of contractors and small business owners that have become impacted by the loan charge legislation. But today, more and more accounts have come through by the hour.

This week Secretary of State for Health and Social Care made a speech about a national suicide prevention campaign. For those impacted by the loan charge and who have contemplated suicide due to the subsequent financial distress, this is arguably ironic.

The personal impact has been devastating from the moment we became aware in 2018 that the #LoanCharge legislation would affect us & then the extent to which it would impact on our financial planning. My wife’s health has deteriorated markedly.

The future is bleak for her.

The Loan Charge and Taxpayer Fairness APPG launched earlier this month a new call for evidence this time from advisers with clients affected by the Loan Charge. This follows an earlier call for evidence, from people directly affected by the Loan Charge, which has revealed a deeply worrying reality with many people facing bankruptcy, relationship and mental breakdown and 15% of people reporting suicidal thoughts or intent.

Here are some of the letters received by the APPG:

Delay tactics?

Keith M Gordon, a tax barrister who tweets occasionally on tax-related matters and in a personal capacity, offered a 15-post thread on his thoughts and experiences with the Loan Charge and The Treasury and HMRC’s response or lack of one over the past year.

What is the loan charge?

The Loan Charge was introduced in the Finance (no. 2) Act 2017 and is a charge on all payroll remuneration through loans made since 1999, in the form of a 45% charge on all loan payments in that time.

This charge is levied as a back tax and demanded by HMRC in one tax year, 2019-2020. Anyone who has ever been employed through such as structure will be hit with a retrospective charge in the 2018-19 tax year in one go, meaning huge and wholly unaffordable bills.

Loan remuneration arrangements were – and still are – legal, hence being recommended by accountants and approved by lawyers. Users of arrangements were not challenged by HMRC at the time.

What is the stance of the APPG?

The Loan Charge and Taxpayer Fairness APPG believes that loan remuneration arrangements should be subject to taxation from the point of the introduction of legislation, i.e. prospective from 16th November 2017, and that the Treasury should then clearly outlaw their usage.

The main concerns of the APPG are firstly the retrospective nature of the Loan Charge legislation, which overrides tax law of the time and statutory protections for taxpayers, by allowing HMRC to going back further than time limits allow to claim tax; and, secondly, the impact the Loan Charge will have on those facing it, which is a cause for concern for all Group members and for the majority, if not all, MPs with constituents facing the Loan Charge.

Government’s call for suicide prevention

This week, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, made a speech about suicide prevention. For those impacted by the loan charge, this is arguably seen as ironic.

Jacqui Morrissey, Assistant Director of Research and Influencing at Samaritans, had this to say about the speech:

“These are very encouraging words from the Secretary of State and we look forward to seeing them turned into action.”

As someone who has been personally touched by suicide, Sajid Javid knows better than most that suicide prevention is everyone’s business and with so many complex factors that can lead to someone taking their own life, having MPs, civil servants and frontline government workers being trained in suicide prevention would be a big step forward

Jacqui Morrissey, Assistant Director of Research and Influencing at Samaritans

Morrissey said the word ‘suicide’ can sound scary but it’s only by getting everyone talking together that we can make real progress on reducing suicide rates.

“Hopefully, this will be the start of a national conversation that starts to break down the stigma of suicide and makes a real difference to people’s lives,” she said.

Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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